A new low-cost, nanotech-based approach to power generation developed by researchers at Boston College and MIT could lead to cleaner-running semiconductors, air conditioners, car exhausts and more. The technique, published online yesterday in Science, uses the nanostructures to dramatically increase thermal efficiency.
The researchers didn't invent a new material so much as re-work an old one, a semiconductor alloy that's been used in various devices for five decades. "We have found a way to improve an old material by breaking it up and then rebuilding it in a composite of nanostructures in bulk form," says BC physicist Zhifeng Ren.
And this isn't some far-off application, either: The scientists say it could be applied to existing products, enabling them to consume less energy, and use energy that might other was be wasted.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.